Register Sunday | May 26 | 2024
Norway Photograph by Mikkel Walle.


New poetry by Laura Ritland.

Another country crumbled
from my father’s mouth this morning: wheat-
scree and bran tarns charting the counter.
             These alluvial streaks
of milk recall the amniotic, I conclude,
on the wasted vista. Another sign
I’m getting too old to just sit down
             to a nice breakfast. Gone
are the toaster waffles once the sovereign
territory of 8 a.m. school days, when parents
were continents 
we’d rather not discover. Now,
            maple syrup 
is Canadian and my father’s
he’s Norwegian; every day marks his
gradual decline into mountains, receding
alpine lines and winter shale. Home’s
            not quite what it was. Yesterday,
he wore his longjohns for the first time in years.
So they still fit! July unanimously slicked 
to our foreheads as we argued the place
             of the backyard blow-up pool.
Hazed-out civic beaches, coastal serenity
obstructed. Nowhere to stake a lake in this country,
I thought, feeling teenaged and foreign. I surrendered
            to the shade of the porch-strung
Norwegian flag, watching my girlhood dolls
wilt in the gutter. For many of us, it seems
our nations remain elsewhere. Take this
            blond Canadian grain that slips
through my palm: land disowns us, not we it.